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Health Club Management

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Health Club Management

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Big brands must embrace social purpose to thrive in H&F sector: report

A new report from Oxygen Consulting has said that the physical activity sector must “unleash” its social purpose to thrive among the wave of private and budget gyms.

The report – a collaboration between Matrix, The Gym Group and ukactive – said that health and fitness clubs must take cues from social purpose-led brands such as Innocent, TOMS and Apple to successfully thrive in the future.

The Fitness Sector Social Good Report details the critical impact of social responsibility on the growth, value and impact of the private gym sector over the next 15 years, against a backdrop of local authority-run leisure facilities and the rise of low cost gyms.

In the report’s foreword, ukactive CEO David Stalker, lamented the perception that big brand gyms care more about the 'bottom line' than in establishing a meaningful connection with the customer, highlighting also that it is the responsibility of the organisations within the sector to tackle that thinking.

One such scheme demonstrating social purpose is Gymtopia, which was launched in August to bring together insight, inspiration and stories from the health and fitness industry.

The report also attributes the possible reason for the gradual decline in public perception of nationwide gyms to the takeover of these chains by bigger businesses and venture capital funds, which then led to a more ruthless focus on the 'bottom line' mentality for those aiming to capitalise on the sector during the 80s and 90s.

The key points advised in the 120-page report to help these gyms within their growth strategies and to change the public perception by conveying a social purpose, includes pursuing authentic and sustainable social values by remaining relevant to stakeholders; promoting goodwill to inspire both staff and customers and building a reputation that extends beyond the brand’s geographic marketplace. They should also focus on being generous to customers through good times and bad, as well as creating an organisation that understands its audience and is driven to improve the health of the nation.

“This report is the impetus the sector needs to think beyond the size of a membership direct debit run. Securing the future growth of our sector is as much about benefiting the health and wellbeing of our customers, as it is about valuing the long term business advantages of being socially responsible,” said Stalker. “We’re committed to helping our members.

A feature on the Fitness Sector Social Good Report will be available in the May issue of Health Club Management magazine, p46. For a look at the most recent in the Gymtopia series, click here.

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A new report from Oxygen Consulting has said that the physical activity sector must “unleash” its social purpose potential to thrive among the wave of private and budget gyms.
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